River of No Return (1954)

    This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

    Your view is limited. Please register to the JWMB to access all features.
       

    There are 3 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by Moonshine_Sally.

    • River of No Return (1954)

      RIVER OF NO RETURN

      DIRECTED BY OTTO PREMINGER
      PRODUCED BY STANLEY RUBIN
      MUSIC BY CYRIL J. MOCKRIDGE
      TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION


      INFORMATION FROM IMDb

      Plot Summary
      Matt Calder, who lives on a remote farm with his young son Mark,
      helps two unexpected visitors who lose control of their raft on the nearby river.
      Harry Weston is a gambler by profession and he is racing to the nearest town to register
      a mining claim he has won in a poker game.
      His attractive wife Kay, a former saloon hall girl, is with him.
      When Calder refuses to let Weston have his only rifle and horse,
      he simply takes them leaving his wife behind.
      Unable to defend themselves against a likely Indian attack,
      Calder, his son and Kay Weston begin the treacherous journey
      down the river on the raft Weston left behind.
      Written by garykmcd

      Cast
      Robert Mitchum ... Matt Calder
      Marilyn Monroe ... Kay Weston
      Rory Calhoun ... Harry Weston
      Tommy Rettig ... Mark Calder
      Murvyn Vye ... Dave Colby
      Douglas Spencer ... Sam Benson
      and many more...

      Directed
      Otto Preminger
      Jean Negulesco ... (uncredited)

      Writing Credits
      Frank Fenton ... (screenplay)
      Louis Lantz ... (story)

      Produced
      Stanley Rubin ... producer

      Music
      Cyril J. Mockridge
      Leigh Harline ... (uncredited)

      Cinematography
      Joseph LaShelle ... director of photography (as Joseph La Shelle)

      Trivia
      Both Otto Preminger and Marilyn Monroe were forced to do the film against their will,
      due to contractual obligations. They both expressed their frustration over the script
      which they considered below par.
      However, the film was a box office hit upon its release and remains a popular classic western.

      During the shoot in Jasper, local resident Wilbur Stanley and a friend were watching some of the scenes.
      Robert Mitchum accepted their invitation during a break and they returned to their car,
      where they each had a beer and talked.
      Afterward Mitchum got out of the car, threw the bottle across the ground near there,
      and commented "Best breakfast I ever had!"

      While most of the cast and crew went to lunch Marilyn Monroe would rather go underneath the set,
      between all the pillars and dust just to find Bandit the raccoon put him in her lap,
      pet him, then just sit and talk to his owner Ralph Helfer about animals and horses.

      The 3 pairs of jeans that Marilyn Monroe wore in the movie were among a collection
      of her personal items that were sold for $42,550 at auction at Christies Auction House
      to designer Tommy Hilfiger.

      Film editor Dann Cahn recommended a young woman he was dating
      for the part of a beautiful young woman in Your Show Time (1949).
      Producer Stanley Rubin auditioned her and turned her down because she did not have enough experience.
      The young woman's name was Marilyn Monroe.
      Rubin later tried to make up for his mistake and cash in on
      Monroe's fame by casting her in River of No Return (1954).

      Otto Preminger's experience on the film convinced him he never wanted to work
      as a studio employee again, and he paid Fox $150,000 to cancel the remainder of his contract.

      Marilyn Monroe got very attached to the raccoon Bandit.

      The film ran over schedule and budget due to mishaps caused when director Otto Preminger
      insisted that actors perform their own stunts for the scenes of the raft struggling down the rapids.
      On one occasion Marilyn Monroe had to be saved from drowning when her boots filled with water,
      and on another she and Robert Mitchum had to be rescued when their raft became stuck on a rock
      and was on the verge of overturning.
      However, according to Lee Server's biography "Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don't Care",
      they didn't do their own stunts. The people on the overturning raft were stunt performers
      Roy Jenson, Helen Thurston and midget Harry Monty.
      Mitchum would often "appropriate" anecdotes; this appears to be one of them.
      The stars were only allowed to perform on a raft secured to the riverbank,
      although Monroe actually did twist her leg.

      Marilyn Monroe's voice was her own & she worked hard to get her guitar fingering accurate.

      This was not the first meeting of Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe.
      Mitchum had worked at Lockheed Aircraft with Monroe's then first husband James Dougherty.
      The two had met on at least one occasion during the mid 1940's.

      Average Shot Length (ASL) = 20 seconds

      This was the first film released by 20th Century-Fox to feature the "CinemaScope extension"
      fanfare before the opening credits. Written by Alfred Newman,
      it's a rerecording his original 1933 fanfare, with the extra few bars that play under the credit
      " 20th Century-Fox presents A CinemaScope Production".
      After Fox switched to Panavision in 1967,
      they went back to their old fanfare, so the extension fanfare wasn't used again
      until it was revived by George Lucas to play before the opening credits
      to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
      This time those few extra bars played under the credit " A Lucasfilm Production"
      Since then it's been re-recorded a few times but remains to this day the intro
      to every film released by that studio.

      Marilyn Monroe was accompanied by Natasha Lytess, her acting coach.
      Otto Preminger clashed with the woman from the very start.
      She insisted on taking her client aside and giving her direction contrary to that of Preminger,
      and she had the actress enunciating each syllable of every word of dialogue with exaggerated emphasis.
      Preminger called Stanley Rubin in Los Angeles and insisted Lytess be banned from the set,
      but when the producer complied with his demand, Monroe called Darryl F. Zanuck
      directly and asserted she couldn't continue unless Lytess returned. Zanuck
      commiserated with Preminger but, feeling Monroe was a major box office draw
      he couldn't afford to upset, he reinstated Lytess. Angered by the decision,
      Preminger directed his rage at Monroe for the rest of the production.

      Roughly a decade after the film was made, Marilyn Monroe claimed this was her worst film,
      and Otto Preminger spoke bitterly about her in numerous interviews.
      It wasn't until January 1980, when being interviewed for the New York Daily News,
      that he conceded, "She tried very hard, and when people try hard, you can't be mad at them."

      During the difficult shoot, Otto Preminger had to contend with frequent rain,
      Robert Mitchum's heavy drinking, and an injury to Marilyn Monroe's ankle
      that kept her off the set for several days and ultimately put her in a cast.
      Young Tommy Rettig seemed to be the director's sole source of solace.
      He respected the boy's professionalism and appreciated the rapport he developed with Monroe,
      which often helped keep the actress on an even keel.
      When Natasha Lytess began to interfere with Rettig's performance,
      thereby undermining his confidence, Preminger let the cast and crew know about her behavior
      and was delighted to find they finally began to support him in his efforts to remove her from the set.

      During post-production, Otto Preminger departed for Europe,
      leaving editor Louis R. Loeffler and Stanley Rubin to complete the film.
      Jean Negulesco was called in to film a few retakes.
      The dailies reconfirmed Rubin's belief that Preminger had been the wrong choice for the project.
      He felt the director had failed to capture the Western aura, had ignored key elements in the plot,
      and had badly directed action sequences, leaving them looking staged and static.
      In several cases, studio and location shots didn't match.

      Otto Preminger) was preparing for the opening of The Moon Is Blue (1953)
      when 20th Century Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck assigned him to direct this film
      as part of his contract with the studio.

      Stanley Rubin scheduled twelve weeks of preproduction, during which Marilyn Monroe
      rehearsed and recorded the musical numbers written by Ken Darby and Lionel Newman,
      and forty-five days for filming.

      While filming a scene, Ralph Helfer trained raccoon panicked and hid underneath the set
      after a fake tree crashed to the ground.

      The Raccoon's name was Bandit.

      Because of their previous experience with Westerns, producer Stanley Rubin
      had wanted William A. Wellman, Raoul Walsh, or Henry King to helm the film,
      and he was concerned Otto Preminger, who he felt was better suited for film noir melodrama
      or sophisticated comedy, would be unable to rise to the task of directing a piece of Americana.

      Otto Preminger had no interest in the project until he read the screenplay
      and saw potential in the story. He also approved of Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe,
      who already had been cast in the lead roles.

      On May 15, 1952, Los Angeles Times reported that Louis Lantz'' original story
      had been purchased as a vehicle to star 'Dale Robertson',
      and that Julian Blaustein would serve as the picture's executive producer.
      The news item also announced that the film would be shot on the Salmon River in Idaho.
      According to a November 1952 Daily Variety news item, Lantz was set to write the film's screenplay,
      but only Frank Fenton is credited onscreen.

      Marilyn Monroe's only starring role in a Western.
      She had an uncredited supporting role in the Western comedy "Ticket to Tomahawk" (1950).

      Goofs
      Character error
      When Matt and Kay are in the cave, Matt trips over a rock
      as he is walking over to hang up Kay's bloomers to dry.

      Continuity
      When Matt comes from fishing, he carries only one fish (left hand).
      Immediately after, he has two fishes.

      Revealing mistakes
      The chords Kay plays on the guitar do not match the chords necessary for that particular song.

      After making it down the rapids, where previously we have seen Ms Monroe's clothes clinging soaking wet,
      the very first shot on still water she is all clean and dry and ironed.
      The same is true for Michum.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
      Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
      Stage 9, 20th Century Fox Studios - 10201 Pico Blvd., Century City, Los Angeles, California, USA (studio) (uncredited)
      Salmon River, Idaho, USA (river sequence)
      Maligne River, Alberta, Canada (river sequence)
      Bow River, Alberta, Canada (river sequence)
      Snake Indian River, Alberta, Canada (river sequence)

      Watch the Movie

      [extendedmedia]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkTDZnJG6uQ[/extendedmedia]
      Best Wishes
      Keith
      London- England
    • River of No Return is a 1954 American Western film directed by
      Otto Preminger and starring Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe.
      The screenplay by Frank Fenton is based on a story by Louis Lantz,
      who borrowed his premise from the 1948 Italian film The Bicycle Thief.

      It was made in Technicolor and CinemaScope and released by 20th Century Fox.

      Production
      Pre-production
      Otto Preminger was preparing for the opening of The Moon Is Blue when 20th Century Fox executive Darryl F. Zanuck assigned him to direct River of No Return as part of his contract with the studio. Because of their previous experience with Westerns, producer Stanley Rubin had wanted William Wellman, Raoul Walsh, or Henry King to helm the film, and he was concerned Preminger, who he felt was better suited for film noir melodrama or sophisticated comedy, would be unable to rise to the task of directing a piece of Americana. Preminger himself had no interest in the project until he read the screenplay and saw potential in the story. He also approved of Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe, who already had been cast in the lead roles.

      Zanuck decided the film should be made in CinemaScope and increased the budget accordingly. Much of it would be filmed in Banff and Jasper National Parks and Lake Louise in Alberta, and Preminger and Rubin flew to the area to scout locations. During their time there, Rubin grew fond of the director and began to feel that rather than viewing it as a contractual obligation, Preminger had a real interest in making the film.

      Rubin scheduled twelve weeks of preproduction, during which Monroe rehearsed and recorded the musical numbers written by Ken Darby and Lionel Newman, and forty-five days for filming.



      Filming
      The cast and crew departed for Calgary in late June 1953. From there they traveled by special train to the Banff Springs Hotel, which would serve as their base during the Canadian filming.

      Monroe was accompanied by Natasha Lytess, her acting coach. Preminger clashed with the woman from the very start. She insisted on taking her client aside and giving her direction contrary to that of Preminger, and she had the actress enunciating each syllable of every word of dialogue with exaggerated emphasis. Preminger called Rubin in Los Angeles and insisted Lytess be banned from the set, but when the producer complied with his demand, Monroe called Zanuck directly and asserted she couldn't continue unless Lytess returned. Zanuck commiserated with Preminger but, feeling Monroe was a major box office draw he couldn't afford to upset, he reinstated Lytess. Angered by the decision, Preminger directed his rage at Monroe for the rest of the production

      During the difficult shoot, Preminger also had to contend with frequent rain, Mitchum's heavy drinking, and an injury to Monroe's ankle that kept her off the set for several days and ultimately put her in a cast. Monroe nearly drowned while filming in Jasper, Canada. She had donned chest high hip waders during rehearsal to protect her costume. She slipped on a rock, the waders filled with water, and she was unable to rise. Mitchum and others jumped in the river to rescue her but her ankle was sprained as a result.Young Tommy Rettig seemed to be the director's sole source of solace. He respected Rettig's professionalism and appreciated the rapport he developed with Monroe, which often helped keep her on an even keel. When Lytess began to interfere with Rettig's performance, thereby undermining his confidence, Preminger let the cast and crew know about her behavior and was delighted to find they finally began to support him in his efforts to remove her from the set.

      In early September, filming shifted to Los Angeles for interior scenes and close-ups for a river sequence that would be filmed in a tank, since stunt people had been used in the long shots filmed on the actual rapids of the actual River of No Return, the Salmon River, south of Lewiston, Idaho. Lewiston would have been the destination of Matt, Kay and Mark, not Council City. The Salmon drops over 7,000 feet in elevation from its headwaters to its confluence as a tributary of the Snake River, hence the rapids and its nickname. (As a side note, the Salmon is the only major river in the United States contained entirely within one state.) There is a Council, Idaho, but it is in Adams County, distant from the river. Monroe was on crutches, and Preminger had to work around her as much as possible. Despite frequent disagreements with Rubin, Preminger completed the film on September 29, on schedule and within the budget.

      This movie was the first to be filmed in CinemaScope in Canada. River of No Return was the first film released by 20th Century-Fox to feature the "CinemaScope extension" fanfare before the opening credits. Written by Alfred Newman, it's a rerecording of his original 1933 fanfare, with the extra few bars that play under the credit " 20th Century-Fox presents A CinemaScope Production". After Fox switched to Panavision in 1967, they went back to their old fanfare, so the extension fanfare wasn't used again until it was revived by George Lucas to play before the opening credits to Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. This time those few extra bars played under the credit " A Lucasfilm Production" Since then it's been re-recorded a few times but remains to this day the intro to every film released by that studio.



      Post-production
      During post-production, Preminger departed for Europe, leaving editor Louis R. Loeffler and Rubin to complete the film. Jean Negulesco was called in to film a few retakes. The dailies reconfirmed Rubin's belief that Preminger had been the wrong choice for the project. He felt the director had failed to capture the Western aura, had ignored key elements in the plot, and had perfunctorily directed action sequences, leaving them looking staged and static. In several cases, studio and location shots didn't match.

      Preminger's experience on the film convinced him he never wanted to work as a studio employee again, and he paid Fox $150,000 to cancel the remainder of his contract.

      In later years, Monroe claimed River of No Return was her worst film, and Preminger spoke bitterly about her in numerous interviews. It wasn't until January 1980, when being interviewed for the New York Daily News, that he conceded, "She tried very hard, and when people try hard, you can't be mad at them."

      Critical reception
      Bosley Crowther of the New York Times observed, "It is a toss-up whether the scenery or the adornment of Marilyn Monroe is the feature of greater attraction in River of No Return . . . The mountainous scenery is spectacular, but so, in her own way, is Miss Monroe. The patron's preference, if any, probably will depend upon which he's interested in. Certainly, scriptwriter Frank Fenton has done the best he could to arrange for a fairly equal balance of nature and Miss Monroe . . . And that should not be too lightly taken. For Director Otto Preminger has thrown all the grandeur and menace of these features upon the eye-filling CinemaScope screen. A sickening succession of rapids, churned into boiling foam, presents a display of nature's violence that cannot help but ping the patron's nerves. The raft tumbling through these rapids is quite a sight to see. And layouts of Rocky Mountain landscapes are handsome in color, too. But Mr. Mitchum's and the audience's attention is directed to Miss Monroe through frequent and liberal posing of her in full and significant views."

      Variety said, "The competition between scenic splendors of the Jasper and Banff National Parks and entertainment values finds the former finishing slightly ahead on merit, although there's enough rugged action and suspense moments to get the production through its footage. In between the high spots, Otto Preminger's directorial pacing is inclined to lag, so the running time seems overlong."[20]

      TV Guide rated it 3½ out of four stars, calling it "a simple, frequently charming, and beautifully photographed film blessed with fine performances and great teamwork from Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe" and "an enjoyable, engaging little Western that never fails to entertain."

      Film4 called it a "patchy drama which owes more to its gorgeous scenery and musical numbers than it does to anything else . . . The plot doesn't convince, but Monroe, at the peak of her career, is more than easy on the eye . . . Despite some pretty locations and occasional tension, there's little going on. A shallow river indeed."



      User Review

      White Water Rafting With Marilyn and Mitch
      29 June 2007 | by bkoganbing (Buffalo, New York)

      bko wrote:

      Of all of Marilyn Monroe's leading men, Robert Mitchum was the only one who knew her back when. In 1941 before he made his screen debut in a Hopalong Cassidy film,

      Mitchum was among other things an aircraft factory worker and one of his friends was one James Daugherty. Of course Jim had a wife Norma Jean at the time and Bob and Dorothy occasionally socialized.

      He knew all about her psychological problems and when it came time to do a film with her when both became screen legends, Mitchum was not about to get himself involved. That probably helped because during the shooting Marilyn and director Otto Preminger stopped speaking and would only communicate through Mitchum.

      Marilyn's a saloon gal involved with a no good gambler/drifter in Rory Calhoun. Calhoun and Monroe nearly drown on a river when Mitchum rescues them and their raft. No good deed goes unpunished so Calhoun takes Mitchum's horse and Mitchum, Monroe, and Mitchum's son Tommy Rettig use the raft to go after him. They're kind of forced to because the Indians are on the warpath.

      She's certainly quite a distraction for a man on a mission and at one point Mitchum does give into lust ever so briefly. Which does make River of No Return one of the more realistic westerns ever done.

      Twentieth Century Fox decided to go whole hog on this one, shooting the film up in Banff. But with Marilyn and Otto feuding it was not a happy set. Otto walked off the picture and Jean Negulesco finished it out. Joe DiMaggio flew up to the set because of rumors of Mitchum and Marilyn, that were completely unfounded, but Joe was the jealous type. As for Mitchum legend has it that he and another legendary drinker, Murvyn Vye, killed many a bottle during the long evenings.

      Done in cinemascope and 3-D, River of No Return should be seen on the big screen. Not even a letterbox DVD does it justice. And 3-D was definitely the medium for Monroe. Marilyn even has some nice songs to sing in this one.

      It's not a great western, still it's entertaining enough especially in those rafting sequences. But it was a film Otto Preminger shuddered about when recalling.
      Best Wishes
      Keith
      London- England